Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Reply

Charles Murray, the author of this poem, was born in Alford, Aberdeenshire in 1864 and wrote a great deal of poetry in his native Doric language (apparently to please his father). Much of it was written while he was living in South Africa where he worked as a civil engineer. His second book of poetry, "Hamewith" (Homewards) was published five times before he died in Banchory, Kincardineshire in 1941. A number of his poems, like this one, relate to the countryside.

There is a glossary of less familiar words at the end

The Reply

Tho' loud the mavis whistles now
An' blackbirds pipe fae ilka bough
An' laverocks set the heart alowe -
       Mid a' the plenty
You'd miss upon the wayside cowe
       The twitt'rin' lintie

An' think you, when the simmer's gane,
When the sleet blaws thro' the leafless plane,
An' bieldless birds sit mute an' lane,
       The woods a' cheerless,
The hamely robin on the stane
       Sings sweet an' fearless.

So tho' my sangs be as you say
Nae marrow for the blackbird's lay
They may hae cheered somebody's way
       Wha wanted better,
An' sent him happier up the brae
       My welcome debtor.

Nae care hae I, nor wish to speel
Parnassus' knowe, for mony a chiel
Has tint his time, his life as weel,
       To claim a bit o't:
I only crave a wee bit biel'
       Near han' the fit o't.

Meaning of unusual words:
mavis = song thrush
ilka = every
laverocks = larks
cowe = twig of a shrub
lintie = linnet
simmer's gane = summer has gone
bieldless = unprotected
marrow = equal
brae = slope, hill
speel = climb
Parnassus' knowe = hill of Parnassus (home of poetry, literature, and learning)
mony a chiel = many a fellow
tint = lost
biel' = shelter, protection
near han' the fit o't = nearer the foot of it.

Return to the Index of Scottish Poetry Selection

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